Colombia’s President Ivan Duque convoked an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday after the country’s war crimes tribunal ordered the release of a FARC leader wanted for extradition by the United States.
According to newspaper El Espectador, Duque is expected to address the nation in a televised speech after meeting with Vice-President Marta Lucia Ramirez, Justice Minister Gloria Maria Borrero, Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez, Peace Commissioner Miguel Ceballos, Human Rights Commissioner Francisco Barbosa and National Security adviser Rafael Guarin.
The president abandoned a special security meeting in Medellin in order to meet with his closest aides and formulate a response, he said on Twitter.
At this time we are returning to Bogota. We have been following to the latest developments of interest to all Colombians. In the next few hours we will be making a public announcement.
President Ivan Duque via Twitter
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) said earlier Wednesday it ordered the release of FARC leader “Jesus Santrich” because the US claim he conspired to traffic drugs was unsubstantiated and the process that led to Santrich’ arrest last year contained serious irregularities.
Why Colombia’s war crimes tribunal rejected a US extradition request and released a former rebel chief
The FARC and their long-time ideologue have long claimed that Santrich had been “framed” by the DEA and Martinez, a claim that is supported by evidence.
Duque has been a long-time opponent of the peace process with the FARC and, with the support of the US government, has tried to limit the powers of the JEP, particularly in regards to its power to block extradition requests of alleged war criminals.
The impending release of Santrich is a huge victory for both the demobilized FARC leader and his alleged victims who want him on trial in Colombia for war crimes instead of facing a drug charge in the US.
The decision, however, is a huge blow Duque and outgoing US ambassador Kevin Whitaker who has gone out of his way to have the FARC leader extradited, despite evidence indicating foul play by the DEA.